How About More Air and Less Chips?

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    By Jim D'Amico


    In the Chips!

    Think about your favorite “chip” snack or similar salty, cheesy or savory crunchable.  According to Kitchen Cabinet Kings, “the average bag of chips is 43% air.” That information was published in Southwest Airlines, “The Magazine” (clever name for a magazine, huh?).

    The article went on to say, “(A note:  It’s not technically air in your bags. Instead, nitrogen is used to prevent chips from going stale and to keep them from, well, chipping.)  Cheetos led the pack with bags that were 59 percent nitrogen, while Fritos’ pouches were just 19 percent.”

    There was also a side note with the heading “In the Chips” that provided additional information.  “Here’s something to snack on: The study found that the average amount of chips in a bag has increased 27 percent since 2015.”

    Is Bigger Better?

    It appears that the snack food industry is headed in the same direction as the fast food industry.  Portions are getting larger.

    I wish I could say that’s a good thing, but I’m not so sure.  As portions have been getting larger so have Americans.

    A LiveScience article provided the following statistics.

    “The average weight for men rose "dramatically," in the CDC's words, from 166.3 pounds in 1960 to 191 pounds in 2002. Women went from 140.2 pounds in 1960 to 164.3 pounds in 2002.”

    Size Matters

    What does all this talk about snack food and fast food have to do with people involved in the mechanical trades?  At first glance one would say, “Not much!”

    But a closer look may reveal some important considerations.

    Americans are getting larger, but what about working conditions and work spaces.  Are work spaces growing to accommodate larger technicians, plumbers and electricians?  One would think not.

    Crawl spaces have never been very accommodating even for the thinnest among us.  Try putting a super size human in a crawl space and see if he can do his job both timely and effectively.  Can he even fit? It may be tough.

    What about climbing ladders and stairs to get to equipment needing service?  That’s not easy and may be more challenging for a larger person.

    An obese former service manager I know from a local service company moved on after retirement to driving an airport shuttle bus.  His job was to drive the bus and help airline passengers load their luggage onto the bus. Due to his girth, he had a real problem getting in and out of the driver’s seat and up and down the stairs to grab the luggage.  In fact, on a recent trip, I observed him struggling to get up and out of his seat to help me. I raised my hand to stop him and I said, “I got this” and I proceeded to lift my own luggage onto the bus and onto the rack.

    My point is not to point the finger at anyone.  I too work hard (sometimes not hard enough) to manage my weight so I can remain healthy.  Certainly, it’s not easy.

    But for those involved in the mechanical trades, consideration about working conditions and the impact on scheduling due to size constraints and working conditions is important.  Do we really want to dispatch field personnel based on the size of the people we employ? How efficient can our operations be if we have to dispatch based on a service person’s or installer’s girth?

    Well, Well, Well is Good, Good, Good

    What can be done?  Well, we certainly can’t tell our staff what they can and can’t eat.  But there are some ideas that make good sense.

    Here’s one.  Business owners should consider starting a wellness program at work to encourage good health through exercise and good eating habits.  Keeping our employees healthy and in good condition may improve business operations by reducing illness, loss-time accidents and worker compensation claims.  Wellness programs can also lead to lower health insurance costs.

    Regulate Not Regulation!

    It’s up to each of us and should not require government oversight.  I am of the opinion that when it comes to our health we should all regulate ourselves to avoid government regulation.

    Do you remember New York City Mayor Bloomberg some years ago banning 16 ounce soda pop drinks?  That was known as The Sugary Drinks Portion Cap Rule. The rule was directed at restaurants with self service soda fountains, but excluded supermarkets, vending machine operators and convenience stores.  Violators were subject to a $200 fine.

    Fortunately, due to loopholes and potential uneven enforcement, a New York State Supreme Court Justice called the sugary drink ban “arbitrary and capricious” and the law was struck down.

    Thank goodness for common sense.

    It’s a Marathon not a Sprint

    We all know that diet and exercise for good health requires a commitment over a lifetime.  Perhaps the best advice comes from the old adage, “All things in moderation.” That advice and a few less chips in every bag may make a big difference.



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